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Source Reduction - Your Household

What is Source Reduction?
Eliminating waste before it is created. It involves the design, manufacture, and purchase of materials and production to reduce the amount or toxicity of what is thrown away. Best of all, practicing source reduction can save you money!
Source Reduction Tips:
  • Purchase items in bulk or economy sizes
  • Reuse large glass food jars to store items purchased in bulk
  • Purchase products which are available in concentrated form
  • Purchase items in reusable containers
  • Purchase only those items you need.
  • Purchase products with the least amount of packaging - More of your dollar goes towards the product instead of packaging
  • Purchase high-quality, long-lasting products
  • Repair older items rather than purchasing new ones
  • Reuse plastic or paper grocery bags when shopping. Better yet, use cloth or mesh bags to hold your purchases.
  • Use plastic grocery bags as a packing material.
  • Use paper grocery bags (made from a renewable resource) as trash bags and liners from cereal boxes to hold wet trash so it doesn't get the paper bag wet
  • When preparing food, rinse jars and cans out with small amount of water, then add the water to whatever you're cooking - The extra water will cook off, you don't waste any of the product purchased, and the jar or can is rinsed and ready to be placed in your yellow bin
  • Rinse out laundry detergent jugs and use the diluted detergent as a stain pre-treatment or use a lesser amount of detergent and add the solution to your wash
  • Avoid using disposable cups, plates and cutlery
  • Make your own sport drink bottle by putting a screw-on top from a syrup or other bottle on a soda bottle
  • Use cloth towels, napkins and rags instead of disposable paper products
  • Save bows, tissue paper, Styrofoam peanuts and gift boxes to wrap gifts in the future.
  • Use rechargeable batteries whenever possible
  • Return hangers to dry cleaners for reuse
  • Thoroughly wash and return glass flower vases to florists for reuse
  • Donate back issues of magazines to schools for use in school projects or offer them to a doctor's office for patients to read while waiting.
  • Purchase non-toxic items whenever possible
  • Donate unwanted items (food, clothing, equipment, furniture, appliances) to charitable organizations which support your community - Donations can then be deducted when preparing your taxes
  • Reupholster furniture instead of purchasing new pieces
  • Use the backs of old envelopes for store lists or phone messages
  • Grasscycle" by leaving grass trimmings on your lawn to add nutrients back into the soil
  • Plant perennials instead of annuals which will have to be disposed of at the end of the year
  • Start a backyard compost pile, or use a compost bin to process organic wastes from your kitchen and yard. Finished compost can be used as a soil amendment to improve soil quality in gardens or flower beds, or as a top-dressing for lawn areas.
  • Start an indoor redworm composter to process organic wastes from your kitchen. Finished compost can be used to pot or fertilize houseplants.
  • Refill travel sizes of toilet articles and reuse on future trips
  • If your mail comes secured in a rubber band, save them in a return envelope and place in your mailbox for pickup and reuse by the post office
Contact the Anne Arundel County Department of Public Works, Recycling Division for more information at (410) 222-7951.
  • EPA, Waste Prevention Pays Off, (EPA/530-K-92-004), (800) 424-9346
  • EPA, Business Guide for Reducing Solid Waste, (EPA/530-K-92-004), (800) 424-9346
  • EPA, Reusable News, quarterly newsletter, (800) 424-9346



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Anne Arundel County, Maryland. 44 Calvert Street, Annapolis, Maryland 21401 | Tele: (410) 222-7000